Student Reflection: Serving as Director of Diversity and Inclusion

"Student Reflection: Serving as Director of Diversity and Inclusion" graphic featuring Olivia Mianulli headshot

This time last year, if someone told me I would be the director of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for Temple University’s Chapter of PRSSA, I would’ve thought they were crazy.

Our mentorship program put me in the pathway of Cindy Chen, who was the Chapter’s treasurer at the time. Even though I had little to no PR experience, since I recently changed my major, she convinced me to go to the PRSSA Mid-Atlantic District Conference that was supposed to be held in March 2020. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled due to COVID-19, but Cindy continued to push my limits by convincing me to apply for the 2020–2021 executive board.

At first, I was very hesitant to accept the position of director of D&I. The most incessant thought I had was about being in this position as a white woman. I didn’t think I was qualified enough, didn’t think I knew enough about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), and didn’t think the color of my skin allowed me to be on such a platform.

Then, I figured there are many others like me who want to make a difference for people who feel silenced in our society but feel like they will be judged for being white in doing so. I wanted to be a leader and show even though I don’t understand what being a minority is like, that I am an ally. Additionally, I wanted to show that educating yourself on DE&I topics and making others aware of those topics is important, regardless of your skin color.

With the guidance of Haniya Shariff, the previous director of D&I and current vice president of D&I for PRSSA National, I have done many things to make members feel included, represented, and heard.

One of the first things I wanted to do was make D&I a habit rather than a box to check off. In any organization, it all starts with the executive board, so I proposed that we moved the D&I section towards the beginning of our executive board’s weekly agenda instead of it being discussed second to last. This way, D&I could get the attention and recognition it deserves, and people could give their ideas and opinions while they are still focused and present.

Since then, I have hosted two open conversations giving members the opportunity to share their experiences regarding PRSSA and have created graphics to post on our Instagram regarding various month-long observances (i.e. Hispanic Heritage Month).

Another event I am proud of planning was a workshop for students to find their place in the industry and give resources in advocating for themselves and others in the workplace. Most recently, I hosted a Zoom call where members took a test to learn their unconscious biases and learned ways to combat them.

As the semester comes to a close, I feel proud of the work I have accomplished at Temple PRSSA. For January 2021, I plan to gather data from the D&I survey we send our members to create a strategic plan for the coming years and host more open conversations so our members can be heard.

Lastly, I am planning to create a D&I committee who will help me brainstorm events and ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion, write blogs, and give members a safe space to express their ideas and opinions. I am excited to learn and grow even more than I already have in this position and make a real difference within my community.

Olivia Mianulli headshot

Olivia Mianulli is a junior public relations major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is currently the director of Diversity and Inclusion for Temple’s Chapter of PRSSA and works as a building manager at the Howard Gittis Student Center on campus. 

2 thoughts on “Student Reflection: Serving as Director of Diversity and Inclusion

    • Author gravatar

      Well done, Olivia.

      Thank you for taking the courageous step in bringing voice to this very important issue. We need more allies like you!

      David W. Brown
      Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean
      Assistant Professor of Instruction
      Director of Public Relations Internships and Field Experiences
      Department of Advertising and Public Relations
      Klein College of Media and Communication
      Temple University
      Faculty Advisor, Temple University Black Public Relations Society (TUBPRS)
      Fellow — Institute of Diverse Leadership, AEJMC
      Director of Diversity Outreach, PRSA Educators Academy

    • Author gravatar

      I am so proud of you Olivia!! You are doing such an amazing job girl ? I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and the organization. The D&I committee and community blog sounds super helpful and thoughtful. You go girl??

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